Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Highlands keeps grade scale

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — Highlands High School students will still get extra credit for taking advanced courses.

        A proposal to eliminate the school's weighted grade scale, which gives students extra points toward their grade-point average for taking the tougher courses, failed Monday night.

        The Fort Thomas school board voted 3-1 against the proposal, after hearing from nearly 20 parents, students and teachers who opposed the change.

        “I have no doubt the change would benefit some kids. However, I fear the change would harm more kids than it would help,” board member Brad Fennell said. “... Kids need incentives. Having these weighted grades is what makes our school district what it is.”

        Highlands is one of the state's top-performing high schools, posting some of the highest test scores in the state. More than 80 percent of the school's graduates go to college.

        The school uses a 6.0 grade scale, instead of the traditional 4.0 scale, and gives students more points for advanced and Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

        Highlands' school council proposed a plan to give advanced and regular courses the same weight. Only Ad vanced Placement classes that offer college credit would be weighted.

        School officials said the current system penalizes students for taking standard classes that interest them.

        Proponents of the change said some students avoid standard elective classes, such as music or computers, because an A in those courses does not carry as much weight as an A in an advanced class.

        Opponents, however, said fewer students would take the advanced classes without the extra incentive, pushing the school to limit its advanced offerings. They said students should be rewarded for taking higher-level classes.

        Board members Nancy Baker and Tracy McMath said Highlands' 6.0 scale is inflated and needs to be examined. However, both wanted to look for other options.

        Board member Jeff Beach cast the lone dissenting vote.

        Mr. Beach said an unweighted grade scale wouldn't hurt enrollment in advanced classes, but it would give students more opportunities to take classes of interest.

        “The students in the advanced and (advanced placement) classes were there because they knew they had to be there,” he said. “Students strive to do the best that they can do.”


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